Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:41 am
While Melkon Khosrovian was wooing his wife, he quickly realized that she wasn't as enamored with the frequent hard-liquor toasts as his extended Armenian family was. "She would just pick up her glass and put it back down," he recalls. So he decided to experiment with flavor combinations that would be more palatable to her, creating infused liquors such as grapefruit-vanilla or (her favorite) pear-lavender vodka — in hopes that he might help her feel more like part of the family in the process.
Now that the Christmas feast is over, you may be looking at all the extra food you made, or the food that you brought home from the store that never even got opened.
And you may be wondering: How long can I keep this? What if it's past its expiration date? Who even comes up with those dates on food, anyway, and what do they mean?
Here's the short answer: Those "sell by" dates are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you're worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:04 am
It used to be said that only old men drink rye, sitting alone down at the end of the bar, but that's no longer the case as bartenders and patrons set aside the gins and the vodkas and rediscover the pleasures of one of America's old-fashioned favorites.
Whiskey from rye grain was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:53 pm
Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.
It's just one out-of-the-ordinary example we gleaned from a call out to fans of NPR's Facebook page. Many of them involved a different sort of Christmas "spirit" — the kind that could push Mr. Claus over the legal limit, at least during the U.S. leg of his annual aerial circumnavigation.
Nothing says "I love you," at least in my Polish-American family, quite like the sharing of a thin, flat, tasteless wafer called an oplatek at Christmas.
We're not alone. Before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner, many families with roots in Poland and other Eastern European countries will take part in this tradition, which has roots dating back hundreds of years.
It's high season for pie-making. And when we came upon this touching story about a bunch of women gathering to bake fresh apple pies for the people of Newtown, Conn., it warmed our hearts here at The Salt. Truly.
Nobody really wants to think about economics, the famously dismal science, while sitting down at a table loaded with love and calories. Like it or not, though, supply and demand drive food production and set the price of dinner.
So, in a season of feasts, what are the business stories on your holiday menu?
Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?
Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.
Salt is one of those dangerously tasty substances. We add the magical crystals of sodium chloride to almost everything that we cook or bake, and according to many public health experts, we add too much.
They want us to cut back, to lower our risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Yet when you really start looking for ways to do this, you run into a paradox and a scientific puzzle.
First, the paradox. Too much salt may kill us, but our bodies need some of it to survive.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 9:04 am
Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.
That's the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:34 am
Though my grandmother Georgette was born in the United States, she is half Belgian (Flemish) and half French. On top of the cabinets in her blue kitchen you'll find a little Dutch village of porcelain houses. Above the sink are miniature figures of the Statue of Liberty, Manneken Pis and the Eiffel Tower — representations of her three nationalities. In her Delft cookie jar you'll find speculaas (also called speculoos) — the Dutch windmill-shaped gingersnap-like cookie traditionally eaten on St. Nicholas Day.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:39 am
My family's holiday traditions are simple but consistent: Wake up Christmas morning, drink lots of coffee, eat a good breakfast, and wish each other happy happy. If the weather is nice, we postpone the present opening and pile into the car to head directly to the beach for a walk — a sunny December day along the Northern California coast is something to celebrate. Later, we cook a delicious dinner and sit around the table with a fire glowing in the fireplace nearby.
Fresh maple syrup in two maple leaf-shaped bottles, with other bottles behind. Police officials have arrested three men who allegedly siphoned the sweet treat from 16,000 storage barrels stored in a Quebec warehouse.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport has deployed an army of 1.9 million worms to eat through its organic waste. The airport has reduced the trash it sends to the landfill by 70 percent.
Credit Julie Rose
Organic waste ends up in a series of 50-foot beds where the worms do their work. Castings (aka worm poop) fall through a screen at the bottom of the bed and will be used as fertilizer on airport grounds.